July 24th, 2017
posted by [syndicated profile] johndcook_feed at 01:54pm on 24/07/2017

Posted by John

The previous couple blog posts touched on a special case of sphere packing.

We looked at the proportion of volume contained near the corners of a hypercube. If you take the set of points within a distance 1/2 of a corner of a hypercube, you could rearrange these points to form a full ball centered one corner of the hypercube. Saying that not much volume is located near the corners is equivalent to saying that the sphere packing that centers spheres at points with integer coordinates is not very dense.

We also looked at centering balls inside hypercubes. This is the same sphere packing as above, just shifting every coordinate by 1/2. So saying that a ball in a box doesn’t take up much volume in high dimensions is another way of saying that the integer lattice sphere packing is not very dense.

How much better can we pack spheres? In 24 dimensions, balls centered inside hypercubes would have density equal to the volume of a ball of radius 1/2, or (π/2)12 / 12!. The most dense packing in 24 dimensions, the Leech lattice sphere packing, has a density of π12 / 12!, i.e. it is 212 = 4096 times more efficient.

The densest sphere packings have only been proven in dimensions 1, 2, 3, 8, and 24. (The densest regular (lattice) packings are known for dimensions up to 8, but it is conceivable that there exist irregular packings that are more efficient than the most efficient lattice packing.) Dimension 24 is special in numerous ways, and it appears that 24 is a local maximum as far as optimal sphere packing density. How does sphere packing based on a integer lattice compare to the best packing in other high dimensions?

Although optimal packings are not known in high dimensions, upper and lower bounds on packing density are known. If Δ is the optimal sphere packing density in dimension n, then we have the following upper and lower bounds for large n:

-1 \leq \frac{1}{n} \log_2 \Delta \leq -0.599

The following plot shows how the integer lattice packing density (solid line) compares to the upper and lower bounds (dashed lines).

The upper and lower bounds come from Sphere Packings, Lattices, and Groups, published in 1998. Perhaps tighter bounds have been found since then.

posted by [syndicated profile] johndcook_feed at 01:50pm on 24/07/2017

Posted by John

I’ve written a couple blog posts that may seem to contradict each other. Given a high-dimensional cube, is most of the volume in the corners or not?

I recently wrote that the corners of a cube stick out more in high dimensions. You can quantify this by centering a ball at a corner and looking at how much of the ball comes from the cube and how much from surrounding space. That post showed that the proportion of volume near a corner goes down rapidly as dimension increases.

About a year ago I wrote a blog post about how formal methods let you explore corner cases. Along the way I said that most cases are corner cases, i.e. most of the volume is in the corners.

Both posts are correct, but they use the term “corner” differently. That is because there are two ideas of “corner” that are the same in low dimensions but diverge in higher dimensions.

Draw a circle and then draw a square just big enough to contain it. You could say that the area in the middle is the area inside the circle and the corners are everything else. Or you could say that the corners are the regions near a vertex of the square, and the middle is everything else. These two criteria aren’t that different. But in high dimensions they’re vastly different.

The post about pointy corners looked at the proportion of volume near the vertices of the cube. The post about formal methods looked at the proportion of volume not contained in a ball in the middle of the cube. As dimension increases, the former goes to zero and the latter goes to one.

In other words, in high dimensions most of the volume is neither near a vertex nor in a ball in the middle. This gives a hint at why sphere packing is interesting in high dimensions. The next post looks at how the sphere packings implicit in this post compare to the best possible packings.

posted by [syndicated profile] in_the_pipeline_feed at 11:13am on 24/07/2017

Posted by Derek Lowe

Since many people have checked in with me to see how things have been going, I wanted to mention that today is, in fact, my first day on my new job. I’m very happy to report this, both for the obvious reasons, and because the research I’ll be doing looks to be very interesting and complex, and of great potential use should we make progress. That’s just what I like to be involved in, and I’m very much looking forward to joining my new colleagues and getting back into R&D after a period of unplanned summer vacation. Back to work!

posted by [syndicated profile] in_the_pipeline_feed at 11:13am on 24/07/2017

Posted by Derek Lowe

I don’t spend a lot of time on the blog swatting down idiotic ideas about chemicals. It’s a full time job, and (see next post) I already have a full time job. It’s also frustrating work, because the supply of idiocy is apparently beyond limit, and just when you think you’ve seen the most clueless thing yet, they somehow manage to remove another clue and come back around. But over the weekend, several people alerted me to one of the latest ads in Panera Bread’s long-running campaign to convince everyone that their food is chock-full of wholesome goodness. This one takes off after sodium benzoate, and there are little Twitter and Instagram animations talking about how this icky stuff belongs in fireworks, not in your Panera food, right, guys?

If you Google “sodium benzoate”, prepare yourself for a firehose of stupidity. There’s a long list of sites that are convinced that while benzoic acid is a fresh, healthy, natural ingredient, that sodium benzoate is a devilish industrial chemical that will rot your soul. No, really, that’s pretty much how it goes, and since I know that the great majority of the readers here have a good understanding of acid/base chemistry, you all must be furrowing their brows in puzzlement about that one. I’m with you. I think that my favorite, in a way, is the assertion that when sodium benzoate is exposed to ascorbic acid, that it immediately converts to benzene, which cues up a look at benzene’s (most definitely alarming) toxicity. The source for this would have to be this paper from 2008, which analyzed a long list of beverages for benzene contamination, and found that the only detectable levels were in carrot juice intended for infants. Benzene levels correlated with copper and/or iron levels, and the authors believe that the benzoic acid in carrots is catalytically decarboxylated to a small extent during the heat treatment of the juice. But even the sites that don’t bring that up generally work in something about how sodium benzoate causes Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis, cancers of all types, you name it. And you thought only aspartame could do it all. Somehow, turning fresh, pure benzoic acid into its sodium salt puts the Curse of the Vat onto it, and this evil stain can never be removed, as we all know.

The first idiotic part of this, as the chemists are well aware, is that in foods that contain benzoic acid, a goodly fraction of it is already present as the benzoate anion. In fact, “Determine the proportions of benzoate and benzoic acid in a 0.1M solution of sodium benzoate” is a perfectly good (and perfectly straightforward) problem for an introductory chemistry class. In food, the cation associated with the benzoate is going to be hard to put your finger on, the inside of cells (and food in general) being the gemisch that it is, but sodium is an excellent first choice, considering how much of it is found in living systems. Calcium, technically, is the most common cation in the body, but it gets that title because a lot of it is tied up in bone tissue. Sodium, magnesium, and potassium are probably better bets for intra- and extracellular fluids, although calcium’s definitely a player, too. But it really doesn’t matter much. Benzoic acid is in equilibrium with (whatever) benzoate, and at the likely pH readings in foods (it’s slightly more acidic than acetic acid), you’re going to have a decent amount of the latter.

Benzoic acid is found (as a completely natural metabolite and intermediate) in a huge variety of foods, especially fruits and vegetables – berries are particularly high in it, but it’s also found in aromatic spices such as cinnamon and allspice. There’s not much in meat, but it is found in seafood, and in milk, particularly in fermented milk products such as completely natural, non-GMO yogurt made by people wearing unbleached hemp clothing and singing to each other about their feelings. OK, I’ll try to resist going off like that again (it’s difficult), but it’s certainly true that the bacterial metabolic pathways in fermented milk products like cheese and yogurt produce a good amount of benzoate. (If you’re wondering, chemically, where it comes from, it’s apparently via the microbial breakdown of hippuric acid and phenylalanine, and indirectly from tyrosine as well).

We humans tend to clear benzoic acid out as its conjugate with glycine (which compound is the abovementioned hippuric acid), and I have seen a 1930s biochemistry text that gave this as a laboratory experiment for undergraduates. They suggested that each student drink a solution with several grams of sodium benzoate and then collect their urine over the next few hours, followed by an extractive workup and crystallization to see who produced the best yield of hippuric acid. Such a Urination Derby (or “Piss-off”) experiment is frowned on these days – I used to threaten my lab sections with this one when I was a teaching assistant, but the higher-ups wouldn’t have let me go through with it even if I’d tried. But that’s not because the benzoate is toxic.

This is a comprehensive review on the use of benzoic acids and benzoates in foods, and the folks at Panera could learn a lot from it. Although, it has to be noted, the ones who came up with their benzoate ads could apparently learn a lot from most anything, starting with children’s board books and working up from there. The review points out that benzoic acid is a widely used preservative, but its salts are preferred due to their greater solubility (just as in that old experiment above). It’s mostly used for acidic foods, since it seems to have its greatest antimicrobial effect at pH levels from 2.5 to 4.5 – that is, when the equilibrium is largely towards the benzoic acid side. Put in nonchemical terms, for anyone from Panera who might stumble across this, sodium benzoate turns into benzoic acid when it’s used as a preservative. It’s just a matter of pH, as any high school or freshman chemistry student should be able to explain.

Now to the toxicology and the regulatory aspects. The EC considers benzoic acid together with the benzoate salts, benzaldehyde, and benzyl alcohol, since they are readily interconverted in living systems. They are all GRAS, “generally recognized as safe”. In more detail, that means that (using the regulatory phrasing) “There is no evidence in the available information on the substance that demonstrates, or suggests reasonable grounds to suspect, a hazard to the public when they are used at levels that are now current or might reasonably be expected in the future“. Classic toxicology on benzoic acid/sodium benzoate is not easy, because it’s so nontoxic. Values up to 5 to 10 grams per kilo have been reported as the median lethal dose in rats, which is a huge, whalloping amount. If true, that’s less acutely toxic than table salt; sodium chloride has an LD50 of about 3 grams/kilo in the rat. Chronic toxic effects, though, most certainly show up if you feed rodents a diet that’s 1% or more benzoic acid by weight (still a mighty dose indeed – see below). There are effects on cells in culture as well, although at levels that would seem difficult to achieve in vivo.

Limits for it in foods are generally set to several hundred mg/kilo (a very generous amount – those are levels that you won’t find for too many other things). You can legally go up to 6000 mg/kg for cooked shrimp and 3000 mg/kg for “vegetable pulps”, though. Average daily intake is recommended as around 5 mg/kilo of body weight per day or less, so you’d think that you might want to lay off the cooked shrimp in vegetable pulp. Actual commercial levels of the compound tend, apparently, to be far lower than those legal upper limits. Studies from Australia, New Zealand, Turkey, Hong Kong and many other countries have found that the actual daily intake is a factor of five or less than that ADI value. There are exceptions, though, particularly with concentrated fruit products and with cheeses and yogurt-like products, which has led to some to call for a re-evaluation of all these intake levels. To give you an idea, the estimate from the review linked to above is that perhaps 5% of the population might be over the 5 mg/kg/day limit, averaged over a typical lifetime. In case you’re wondering, that 1%-by-weight in the food that causes problems in rats would equal some 10 to 20 grams per day in an average human’s diet, a brutal amount that would be impossible to reach in anything approaching a normal diet.

But all that is sanity, backed up by hard data. Panera’s ad is a cute graphic is all about how sodium benzoate is found in fireworks, so it shouldn’t be in your delicious food. The problem is, a goodly number of Panera’s menu items – such as all the ones with cheese, and all the ones with berries – contain plenty of sodium benzoate already, in some proportion with benzoic acid. It’s stupid and disingenuous of them to pretend that they’re protecting their customers from evil industrial chemicals, when the same stuff is found in their own ingredients. As many readers will appreciate, you can play the same game with all sorts of other ingredients. Lactic acid (found in milk) is used in tanning leather. Palmitic acid, found in meats, coconut oil, sunflower seeds and many other foods, is used in making soap. 2,3-butanediol (a flavor component of many cheeses) is used in making printing ink and as antifreeze. I could go on all day; any organic chemist could. The entertainment value goes down after a while, because the fundamental premise (Good Healthy Natural Stuff versus Toxic Sludge) is stupid to start with.

So Panera, you’re playing on people’s lack of knowledge of chemistry in order to make yourselves look good. Your reasoning is faulty and your science is wrong. Your ads are offensive to anyone who actually understands chemistry, not that you care much, and you’re claiming a halo for yourselves that you don’t have. Do go on, though.



reccer: excited candy is excited (Default)
andrewducker: (Default)

Posted by Bob Case

This series analyzes the show, but sometimes references the books as well. If you read it, expect spoilers for both.

When last we saw our heroes, Team Dany was at the (conveniently empty) castle of Dragonstone about to plan an invasion, Euron was galivanting off to parts unknown to deliver an unknown gift to Cersei, Arya was off to kill Cersei, and the Hound and company were heading north to do… something or other. Sam is in Oldtown noticing conspicuously circled things in restricted books and nearly getting infected with greyscale (It’s transmitted through touch, Jorah. Keep your hands to yourself!). Jon, Sansa, and Littlefinger are at Winterfell, not really doing much so far. Bran is finally south of the wall. I think that pretty much covers everyone.

The Wages of Adaptation

We start at Dragonstone. The first part of the scene consists of Dany’s brain trust repeating things we already know. Among its other faults this show has a habit of repeating exposition two and three times. To me it feels like padding.

But the scene quickly improves. Dany confronts Varys about where his loyalties lie – in the show-continuity, he’s twice conspired against the King he was supposed to be serving, and Daenerys is understandably wary of his intentions in the future. Varys gets to give a good speech explaining his own actions. It one way, it clarifies the character. In another way, it muddles practically everything that’s happened so far.

This is one of those moments where I feel I have to bring in book knowledge, because it affects how I think this character is supposed to be viewed. To give you the reader’s digest version, in the books there’s another Targaryen: Aegon, a son of Rhaegar’s. Varys and Illyrio (the merchant who originally brokered the Daenerys-Drogo wedding in both books and show) have been keeping his existence secret for quite some time.[4] Aegon, to Varys, is the perfect monarch: one who’s been trained since birth with not only the necessary skills, but also (Varys hopes) the necessary appreciation for his duty to the common people of Westeros.

In the books, Aegon’s existence is the revelation that makes many of Varys’ mysterious actions retroactively make sense. In the show, Aegon never appears. Not only that, but Varys also admits that it was him who sent the assassin after Daenerys. In the books the assassin was motivated by a public offer of a lordship for whoever killed her – a scheme thought up by Littlefinger, not Varys. Suddenly Varys has a whole lot of splainin to do, to both Daenerys and the audience.

TFW when your character`s primary motivation has been cut for time.

TFW when your character`s primary motivation has been cut for time.

Daenerys asks “Before I came to power, you favored my brother. All your spies, your little birds – did they tell you Viserys was cruel, stupid, and weak? Would those qualities have made for a good King, in your learned opinion?”

That’s a very good question. It’s one Varys doesn’t answer. Instead, he skips ahead, past his reasons for supporting Viserys, and to his ignorance of Daenrys’ qualities as a leader: “Before your marriage to Khal Drogo, Your Grace, I knew nothing about you, save your existence and that you were said to be beautiful.” That’s not an answer to her question, of course. Varys doesn’t have an answer, because the show itself doesn’t have an answer.

I don’t mean to be too critical. This is one of the challenges of adaption. After watching this scene, I immediately became suspicious of something, and headed to wikipedia to check. Yep, suspicion confirmed: this is a Bryan Cogman-written episode. Though Bryan Cogman has written his share of nonsense on this show, he, much more so than the showrunners Benioff and Weiss, he at least occasionally gives the impression that he wants characters and their actions to stand up to scrutiny. Here he does the best job that can be expected in writing Varys out of this particular corner.

But I can’t help but be frustrated by the whole process. Varys is a favorite character of mine in the books, and in the show his actor (Conleth Hill) I think portrays him very well. Why did they have to cut Aegon? They couldn’t have cut the ridiculous Euron instead? Or some of Arya’s stickfighting scenes? Or the two separate scenes, both excruciatingly long, where Tyrion tries to play drinking games with a pair of teetotalers? Or the scene where Tyrion convinces the clergy of R’hllor to support Daenerys, when the audience had already been shown they were doing that anyway? Or – I should just stop, or we’ll be here all night.

Next up is Melisandre, who’s arrived at Dragonstone[5]. She tells Daenerys about the whole “Prince who was promished” prophecy, which Missandei points out can also refer to a Princess. Melisandre also tells her about Jon Snow, who she apparently didn’t know was King. Cersei and Jaime knew that before Daenerys even arrived, right? And Team Dany has been at Dragonstone long enough that Melisandre heard it about it and had time to travel here, and – you know what, nevermind. The logic by which characters on this show know some things and not others is completely opaque to me. Also, even when Melisandre specifically mentions Jon Snow’s connection to the Lord of Light, his death and resurrection once again go conspicuously unmentioned. I should probably stop harping on that. We’ll see if I can contain myself.

Of all the things that movies and TV shows put in medieval castles almost every time, `braziers lit in the middle of the day` is the one that makes me scratch my head the most.

Of all the things that movies and TV shows put in medieval castles almost every time, `braziers lit in the middle of the day` is the one that makes me scratch my head the most.

Tyrion sends a message to Winterfell, which arrives in the very next scene. Despite Daenerys making a big deal of the whole “kneel before your rightful Queen” thing, Jon and company don’t even mention it. I couldn’t tell from the shot they showed of the message, but it seems like Tyrion might have left that part out. Either way, the Winterfell brain trust has decided that meeting with Team Dany is too risky, at least for now. This makes sense, as you would expect powerful nobles to be alert to the possibility of betrayal, and to show some concern for their own personal safety. This brings us to our next scene, in King’s Landing.

The Scene Where Powerful Nobles Show No Concern for Their Personal Safety

A bunch of Tyrell bannermen are standing in the throne room. Why? I’m not sure. As Cersei helpfully explains, the house they’re sworn to is in open rebellion against the Iron Throne. So why would they agree to go to the Red Keep, unarmed and unarmored and surrounded by Lannister guards? It can’t be because they were captives – one of them is Lord Randyll Tarly, Sam’s father, last seen at Horn Hill safe and sound. I mean, Cersei is still wearing the same dress she wore when she killed the head of House Tyrell and his two children. That’s the whole reason they’re in rebellion, isn’t it? Isn’t this reckless past the point of sense?

Am I the only one that finds the Kingsguard`s new eeeevil uniforms comical?

Am I the only one that finds the Kingsguard`s new eeeevil uniforms comical?

“If my Queen summons me, I answer the call,” Lord Tarly explains, “and I’ve heard what she does to those who defy her.” This is what I’m talking about when I say the balance of power on this show operates by Calvinball rules. The rules of succession by which Cersei became Queen are never explained, and yet Lord Tarly considers her legitimate to the point of overlooking her mass murder and the extremely suspicious death of the old King. And how is it that House Tyrell is in open rebellion without any of its bannermen? Doesn’t seem like that would be much of a rebellion. I assume there’s supposed to be some sort of tension in this conflict, but I can’t get invested in it when I have no clues as to what the relative strength of each side is.

To top it all off, Randyll Tarly appears to intend to fight for House Tyrell. So why would they even let him leave the castle? Jaime doesn’t blanch at his sister blowing up the Great Sept, with many of her own relatives inside it, but apparently detaining the opposing side’s most capable general before an upcoming war is a bridge too far. The scene ends with Lord Randyll’s decision ambiguous.

As a side note, the guy who plays Lord Randyll’s son Dickon is both conspicuously named and played by the guy who played Billy Bones on Black Sails. He’ll probably be important later.

We check in briefly with Ser Jorah and Samwell. Jorah will only be allowed to stay one more day. Sam is appropriately concerned. Is he really just going to stumble across a cure in some old book or something? Probably.

Medieval apothecaries didn`t have access to modern skin moisturizing creams.

Medieval apothecaries didn`t have access to modern skin moisturizing creams.

Team Dany Invasion Planning Committee

We’re back at Dragonstone. Lady Olenna, Ellaria Sand, and Yara are all here, so it’s all hands on deck. First up: the show acknowledges that Ellaria Sand killed Myrcella! I admit, I expected them to just flush that down the memory hole. I suspect that this is another bit of continuity clean-up that wouldn’t have happened had Benioff and Weiss written the episode.

Queen Daenerys doesn’t want to attack King’s Landing. Apparently it would cause too much death, and she doesn’t want to be “Queen of the Ashes.” She is, however, willing to attack all the “capitals” (not really the right choice of word) around King’s Landing, which will cause less death for reasons I’m not sure I entirely understand. Yes, King’s Landing is a densely populated city, but it’s not like you have to burn the whole thing down to take it. Do you? Does Dany have control over her dragons or not? Once again the characters on the screen seem to have access to a secret set of rules and constraints that are never provided to the audience.

No time to worry about that. Tyrion has decided that the Dothraki and the Unsullied – also known as basically Queen Daenerys’ entire army – can’t be used for PR reasons. Instead, Yara and Ellaria are going to Sunspear to collect the Dornish army. I just want to briefly point out that Ellaria and the Sand Snakes have killed the Prince of Dorne, his bodyguard, the King’s sister, her fiancee (and the heir to House Dorne), and even the poor sap who told them Jaime and Bronn were in the country in the first place. They kill practically every named character they come across. I have no idea why anyone considers them trustworthy enough to team up with.

I have a feeling they`re going to get a lot of mileage out of these props.

I have a feeling they`re going to get a lot of mileage out of these props.

Tyrion reveals the final wrinkle in his brilliant plan: the Unsullied and Dothraki will attack Casterly Rock. Unlike having them attack King’s Landing, this won’t be a PR problem, for reasons we’re not privy to. This plan seems to impress everyone at the table. Casterly Rock is the seat of Lannister power, somehow, even though the Lannisters have been powerful for six seasons and counting without us ever even seeing it. What will Cersei not be able to do anymore without it? Who knows. We’ve already established in a previous season that the Lannister gold mines have run dry, so it’s not that. And the foods that feeds the city comes from the Reach, or so we’re told. Maybe that’s where the Lannister army comes from? But I thought that army was at King’s Landing?

I can come up with answers for these questions, and probably you can too. Unsatisfying answers, true, and answers that just lead to more questions, true, but answers of a sort. The thing is, I really shouldn’t have to, and neither should you. If I have to put your story through an entire interpretive gymnastic routine in order to make it coherent, you’ve done something wrong.

The Grey Worm/Missandei Scene Was Actually Very Good

Let’s not dwell on the bad stuff. The Grey Worm/Missandei scene was good – not only good, but, in my opinion, good in a daring way. Conceptually, this scene is one hair away from being completely ridiculous and cringeworthy. It must have taken some nerve to even write it. But I think the outcome is touching, simple, and real.

It’s surprising to me because of one particular thing. Grey Worm is a eunuch, and up until now this show has been consistently obnoxious about its eunuchs. In seasons five and six Varys could barely get a word in edgewise without someone finding some new way to point out that he doesn’t have a penis. And yet here, Grey Worm’s condition is treated as a source of first shame, and then relief as Missandei accepts him for who he is anyway. So, good on the show for that.

Back to Ser Jorah: yep, Sam just stumbled across a cure in some old book. The Maesters don’t use it because it’s “too dangerous,” despite the fact that greyscale is firmly established to be a terminal disease in cases like Jorah’s. But Sam, who has learned to be a surgeon in record time, won’t let that stop him. We’re treated to an overly long and wince-inducing barely-anesthetized surgery scene. Wahoo.

Sam has seen a zombie army and cured greyscale. Surely that must merit some extra credit?

Sam has seen a zombie army and cured greyscale. Surely that must merit some extra credit?

At the by-now-familiar inn at the crossroads, Hot Pie returns to inform Arya that her brother is still alive, and King in the North now. How exactly Arya didn’t already know this I have no idea. Didn’t she masquerade as Walder Frey for a fortnight, at least, if her dialogue is to be believed? No one at The twins even mentioned in passing that there was a brand new King in the realm? Well, I guess Cersei has Hot Pie to thank that she won’t eat Jaime in an omelette tomorrow morning.

The message Sam wrote to Jon last episode, about the dragonglass underneath Dragonstone, must have been delivered by an extra-slow raven or something, because it’s only just now arrived in Winterfell. Jon announces that he’s going to Dragonstone to meet Queen Daenerys, a decision that, judging by Sansa’s expression, he didn’t bother sharing with her beforehand. Withholding key decisions from his closest allies: that’s the natural knack for leadership that made him King in the North. He puts Winterfell in her hands until he returns. You probably think he should’ve warned her about that, too, but that’s why you’re not King in the North material and never will be.

Littlefinger, standing in his designated lurking spot, seems to approve. Later he schemes in Jon’s general direction down in the crypts. Jon chokes him a little and then walks off. They don’t seem to get along well. It’s still not clear what Littlefinger is trying to do here, but I’m reasonably certain that when we find out it’ll make no sense.

The family crypt. This seems like an appropriate place to creep on your sister.

The family crypt. This seems like an appropriate place to creep on your sister.

Arya is traveling north to Winterfell, and meets Nymeria. This scene isn’t bad, though I expect we’ve now hit our direwolf quota for the season. Enjoy this scene, because it’s all downhill from here.

All My Least Favorite Characters in One Sequence!

I don’t like Yara because she rapes sex slaves and tries to shout and browbeat Theon’s horrific abuse away, I don’t like Ellaria because she’s killed not one but several innocent people and is a complete inversion of her much better book incarnation, and I don’t like Euron because everything about him is ridiculous. I don’t like the Sand Snakes because… well, do I even have to explain? Theon is ok though. It’s too bad he’s stuck with this bunch.

Yara and Ellaria have barely learned each other’s names before they’re diving into each other’s pants, only to be rudely interrupted by a long, dark, confusing, and shakicammed-to-high-heaven battle sequence. Two Sand Snakes are killed (maybe more? I couldn’t actually keep track), and Ellaria is captured.

It ends with Euron holding an axe to Yara’s throat and mocking Theon for being a “cockless coward.”[6] Theon was apparently expected to do something here, but I’m not sure what. Euron was holding her hostage, right? If Theon had rushed him, wouldn’t Euron have just killed her? So what was he supposed to do? He decides to jump overboard, saving his own life, and I guess we should be disappointed.

TFW your brother decides not to provoke someone into killing you.

TFW your brother decides not to provoke someone into killing you.

Now Yara and Ellaria are both in Euron’s clutches. Since it seems pretty obvious that they’re trying to make Euron the next Ramsey, I’d say they’re both in for some gratuitous torture. Established as love interests in one episode, fridged the next. This show is nothing if not efficient. Maybe it’ll prove me wrong. I was wrong about Myrcella’s death not being mentioned, after all. We’ll see.

See you next week.


supergee: (noose)
posted by [personal profile] supergee at 05:58am on 24/07/2017 under
Nine toys my generation* survived.
*Well, most of us, anyway.

Thanx to File 770

Posted by cks

If you read the Illumos ZFS source code or perhaps some online guides to ZFS performance tuning, you may run across mention of a tunable called l2arc_noprefetch. There are various explanations of what this tunable means; for example, the current Illumos source code for arc.c says:

boolean_t l2arc_noprefetch = B_TRUE; /* don't cache prefetch bufs */

As you can see, this defaults to being turned on in Illumos (and in ZFS on Linux). You can find various tuning guides online that suggest turning it to off for better L2ARC performance, and when I had an L2ARC in my Linux system I ran this way for a while. One tuning guide I found describes it this way:

This tunable determines whether streaming data is cached or not. The default is not to cache streaming data. [...]

This makes things sound like you should absolutely turn this on, but not so fast. The ZFS on Linux manpage on these things describes it this way:

Do not write buffers to L2ARC if they were prefetched but not used by applications.

That sounds a lot more reasonable, and especially it sounds reasonable to have it turned on by default. ZFS prefetching can still be overly aggressive, and (I believe) it still doesn't slow itself down if the prefetched data is never actually read. If you are having prefetch misses, under normal circumstances you probably don't want those misses taking up L2ARC space; you'd rather have L2ARC space go to things that you actually did read.

As far as I can decode the current Illumos code, this description also seems to match the actual behavior. If a ARC header is flagged as a prefetch, it is marked as not eligible for the L2ARC; however, if a normal read is found in the ARC and the read is eligible for L2ARC, the found ARC header is then marked as eligible (in arc_read()). So if you prefetch then get a read hit, the ARC buffer is initially ineligible but becomes eligible.

If I'm reading the code correctly, l2arc_noprefetch also has a second, somewhat subtle effect on reads. If the L2ARC contains the block but ZFS is performing a prefetch, then the prefetch will not read the block from the L2ARC but will instead fall through to doing a real read. I'm not sure why this is done; it may be that it simplifies other parts of the code, or it may be a deliberate attempt to preserve L2ARC bandwidth for uses that are considered more likely to be productive. If you set l2arc_noprefetch to off, prefetches will read from the L2ARC and count as L2ARC hits, even if they are not actually used for a real read.

Note that this second subtle effect makes it hard to evaluate the true effects of turning off l2arc_noprefetch. I think you can't go from L2ARC hits alone because L2ARC hits could be inflated by prefetching, putting the prefetched data in L2ARC, throwing it away before it's used for a real read, re-prefetching the same data and getting it from L2ARC, then throwing it away again, still unused.


posted by [syndicated profile] dg_weblog_feed at 07:00am on 24/07/2017

Posted by diamond geezer

Route W5: Archway to Harringay
Location: London north, inner
Length of journey: 4 miles, 30 minutes

You should definitely ride this excellent wholly north London bus route, said a reader. So I did. And then I walked the whole thing back the other way.

It's an oddity, the W5. Not because it's stubbornly indirect - most London buses don't go direct. Not because it's operated by little 1-door minibuses - around a dozen London bus routes have those. It's odd because the vast majority of the journey is Hail and Ride, and entirely unsigned Hail and Ride at that, weaving its way round the backroads of Haringey like a shadowy secret. Catching the W5 mid-route might be a challenge, but it's easy enough at each end, and when I boarded behind a nun carrying a packet of Wagon Wheels I knew I was in for a noteworthy ride.

What have they done to Archway? Last time I was here major roadworks were underway to remove the gyratory, and now it's gone, and in its place is a massive new pedestrian piazza with cars diverted round three sides. It makes for a nicer experience on foot, though not necessarily so in a car, and is presumably supposed to be a lot friendlier to cyclists too. Indeed pride of place in the new piazza goes to a twin-lane cycle track running straight up the centre, which I saw being used by absolutely no bicycles whatsoever, although I was only here for ten minutes which might of course be unrepresentative. It took me several of those ten minutes to try to locate the bus stop where the W5 begins, because it's hidden behind the Archway Tavern and signage from the tube station is non-existent-to-poor.

For a little bus, the W5 runs impressively frequently and is well used. About a dozen of us pile in at the first stop, including a police officer called Brian, an old lady in a brown-brimmed hat and the aforementioned nun. She's been to Poundworld and, as well as the aforementioned Wagon Wheels, her bag also contains a half-price packet of tea bags and some black plastic sacks. I suspect she's catering for a 'gathering' of some kind, and am agog to see where she gets off. One lady gets off at the very first stop up the hill, just past the statue of Dick Whittington's cat, which I charitably assume is because this is outside a hospital and not because she's inherently lazy.

By now we have passengers standing, in part because the ascent up Highgate Hill is quite daunting, but mostly because no other bus heads where we're going. That's off to the right down Hornsey Lane, after an expectedly long wait for the traffic lights to change, heading for the covered reservoir and the amazing Archway Bridge. This cast-iron Victorian span hangs high above the A1, with a blinkered view down the dual carriageway which perfectly frames the City skyscraper cluster. It's also an infamous suicide spot, the spiked parapet no insurmountable deterrent, the most recent loss having been mid-afternoon at the end of June. A letter from the family of the deceased is tied to the railings, thanking those who stopped to talk to him during those last fateful moments, and seeking if possible to find out more. Maybe the long-pledged anti-jump fence will be going up sooner rather than later.

The W5 rumbles on, still with actual proper bus stops, then makes a break for uncharted waters. Stanhope Road heads steeply down and then back up, with what looks like a railway bridge at the dip in the middle. In fact this is the Parkland Walk, a former railway turned nature reserve, and a fascinating green walkway to boot. I've walked across the top of the bridge several times, but never underneath. At the top of the rise is Shepherds Hill, a residential backwater blessed with 'courts' rather than flats, and some rather nice villas. Once a ridgeway bridlepath through fields, part of the northern flank was saved from development in 1893, thereby opening up a broad vista from Queens Wood to Ally Pally. With a screen of trees in the way, very little can be seen from the bus.

Our halfway point is Crouch End, one of Haringey's more bijou quarters, as the names of some of the boutiques along Park Road attest. Kiss The Sky. Niddle Noddle. Crystal Life. Rubadubdub. A lot of passengers alight on Middle Lane, the closest stop to the Clocktower, including a couple of ladies who've been droning on and on about work politics since Archway. The nun is still in her seat. After a fresh bunch of passengers have boarded the doors close, fractionally too late for one shopper who proceeds to tap on the glass for admission. Our jobsworth driver's having none of it and pulls away, only to get stuck behind a parking car while the abandoned passenger glares in vain through the window.

The route the W5 takes beyond Crouch End is very different eastbound to westbound, which I assume is to minimise the hassle of one minibus meeting another minibus coming the other way. Westbound the route passes Hornsey Library (a striking concrete and brick confection, which I note from the plaque outside is four days older than me) and the former Hornsey Town Hall (a Modernist pioneer with tall brick tower, which may soon be converted into an out-of-reach hotel). Eastbound we merely get the Crouch End Picturehouse, Kwikfit and the YMCA, which isn't quite as great.

The W5's role is to serve the population east of Ferme Park Road by threading through a grid of streets running from ridgetop to vale. This is serious Hail & Ride territory, with not a single actual stop between here and the end of the route, and the driver picking his moments carefully to pull in to the side. All the locals seem to know precisely on which street corner to wait for maximum effect, or when to ding to hop off at exactly the right spot. I begin to suspect that several pseudo-bus-stops exist when one passenger presses the bell the instant the bus's doors have closed after a drop-off, and the driver continues a few hundred metres down the road before stopping again, at what is evidently precisely where the passenger wanted to go.

The finest view on the route is in the opposite direction only, heading down Uplands Road, from the top of which comes the sight of Alexandra Palace behind a descending chain of chimneyed roofs. And it's at the summit on Mount View Road that the nun finally alights, taking her coffee morning treats with her, destination (in this convent-free zone) alas unknown. The W5 turns again more often than Dick Whittington, and its next detour diverts it down to Harringay station, sub-optimally in one direction only. When I come to walk back the route in the opposite direction I will get repeatedly lost, unable to remember quite which way the bus went, and with absolutely no bus stops or timetable boards to help me.

Escape from the suburban labyrinth brings the bus to Endymion Road, a one-sided affair skirting the northern rim of Finsbury Park. It's also where the traffic jam starts - approximately above the New River - because the lights at the T-junction with Green Lanes are merciless. Only ten seconds of green are provided, every not very often, and the queue creeps forward only a few cars at a time. We're still officially Hail and Ride, so the driver opens the doors and allows passengers off, which is just as well because the bus spends almost 25% of its overall journey time on Endymion Road attempting to turn left. Perhaps this is why, when another green spell fades and all looks lost, the driver blatantly follows two other cars through red to escape another couple of minutes of queueing purgatory. Tut.

To finish, we turn right at McDonalds into what TfL like to call 'Harringay Superstores', although super is surely overdoing it. A Sports Direct and an Argos have been airdropped onto the site of the Harringay Stadium, plus a number of other utterly typical warehouse-sized chain stores, all bookended by a Homebase and Sainsburys. The W5 terminates round the back of the latter, ideal not just for groceries but so that the driver can dash off to use 'the facilities' at a convenience TfL hasn't had to pay for. The bus simply waits to deliver another batch of shoppers back to non-existent bus stops round a swirl of streets you'd never need to visit unless you lived there, which is fortunate, because otherwise you might never know.

Route W5: route map
Route W5: live route map
Route W5: timetable
Route W5: The Ladies Who Bus
posted by [syndicated profile] newelementary_feed at 06:18am on 24/07/2017

Posted by caperberry

It seems everyone has been enjoying the LEGO® colour collections that Elspeth De Montes displayed at Bricktastic, the show in aid of Fairy Bricks in Manchester, UK. Today she takes things up a notch; here are the MOCs she displayed whose sole purpose was to incorporate some colour collections within the build.

Elsie’s Garden

This walled garden was really just a way to display some LEGO flora in their various colours. When I was reviewing Saturn V, I noticed a new colour for Round Plate 1 x 1 with Flower Edge in Medium Stone Grey [TLG]/ Light Bluish Grey [BL] (6182167 | 33291) and so I lined up a few colours I had for a photo opportunity.

A few people commented to tell me about the colours I was missing, so I had to head to BrickLink for a little flower retail therapy. This part is actually called ‘Bracelet Upper Part’ by TLG, as one of the first sets it appeared in was Scala 3900 Bracelet Polybag back in 2000. Since then it has appeared in over 400 sets and 21 colours!

Elsie’s Walled Garden includes other parts such as the Plant Flower 2 x 2 Leaves - Angular (Element ID 4727, seen on the right of the above image) which officially only appears in the three colours in the garden, Green [BL]/Dark Green [TLG], Bright Green and Medium Lime [BL]/Medium Yellowish Green [TLG]. There are a host of other colours of this part that are not found in sets; you can see the full range of available colours and their current prices on BrickLink.

The Plant Stalk (Element ID 3741) has been around for longer than I’ve been alive! It first appeared way back in 1977 and is in nearly 500 sets now. I have all the currently available colours including the relatively rare, discontinued Brown [BL]/Earth Orange [TLG] which was only available in 10123 Cloud City. While not exactly the same colour, eagle-eyed readers will have spotted Reddish Brown is in the upcoming LEGO NINJAGO Movie set, 70620 NINJAGO City.

My favourite ‘stalk’ is the three-stemmed Mini Bouq. Stem W. 3.2 Shaft (Element ID 99249) which only comes in two colours, Green and Lime [BL]/Bright Yellowish Green [TLG]. Each appears exclusively with members of the CMF Series. You can see the full range of available colours and their current prices on BrickLink.

Hotdog Vendor

The poor hotdog vendor has to push an extended hotdog stand if you want to include all the Hotdog/Sausage (Element ID 25994 or 33078) varieties now available.

21308 Adventure Time [Amazon US | UK] brought us the ‘burnt’ Black sausage while 71246 Adventure Time Team Pack [Amazon US | UK] brought us the ‘frozen’ Sand Blue sausage. You can see the full range of available colours and their current prices on BrickLink.

The tufts of weeds sticking out of the grass are actually the horse comb, which is supplied on a sprue as Accessories For Horse (Element ID 30112) and appeared in Green back in a few Belville sets in 1997. It is held in place by a very common part, Plate 1X1 W. Up Right Holder or clip (Element ID 2555 / 12825), but this actually only came in Green in 4337 Dragon Pod released in 2005, so is reasonably pricey on BrickLink. The newer version of this part, 15712, is yet to come in Green.

Come back tomorrow to see another two colour creations by Elspeth De Montes!

Donate an amount of your choosing to help keep New Elementary publishing great articles about LEGO pieces. Why am I asking for money? Read more here.
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Posted by daniel

I’m lucky enough to have central heating in my house, and as the weather is cold in SE Australia at this time of year, we’ve been using it a bit.

Every few years a strong storm will blow out the pilot light. To fix it I climb up into the roof (fortunately I have an attic ladder fitted) and re-light it. Generally the effort involved to re-learn how to light it is more than the effort to actually do it.

So I’m doing like any good geek would: documenting it.

The unit is a Brivis Wombat 92 (I assume that means it’s a 1992 model). The instructions are written in tiny writing on a label attached to the inside of cover — so tiny it’s quite difficult to read while in the cramped roof space.

The steps are actually pretty quick and easy, as follows:

1. Make sure the heater control (eg in the house) is set to Off, and grab yourself a torch if you have to climb into the roof.

2. Take off the cover. On mine you pull it upwards, but I think my unit is actually mounted upside-down, judging from the logo on the side.

3. Find the dial. Turn it clockwise to the Off position.

4. Find the power point for the unit. The power cord on my unit leads to a power point about a metre away, mounted on a joist. Switch it off.

5. Wait a few seconds and switch it on again. You will hear a regular clicking sound – this is the heater trying to re-light. You’ve got about 20 seconds for the next step.

6. Turn the dial back to the Light position and press down on it. A couple of clicks later you should hear the pilot light.

7. That’s it! Put the cover back on. Enjoy the heat.

So basically, you’re turning it off then on again.

If it doesn’t work? I guess try it again. I know in 2013 mine wouldn’t re-light, and needed a service, but that’s perhaps not surprising for a 20 year old unit.

Good luck!

Posted by Grant Watson

After being revived by a severed electrical cable on the floor of Crystal Lake, Jason Voorhees (Kane Hodder) embarks on a fresh killing spree. He hitches a ride on a ship sailing to New York, picking off its teenage passengers one by one. His only serious opponent is Rennie Wickham (Jensen Daggett), an aquaphobic young woman suffering visions of Jason as a child.

Welcome to the worst Friday the 13th film so far, a film so arbitrary and pointlessly developed that it actually reaches into the magical zone of ‘so bad it’s good’. You have to laugh at Jason Takes Manhattan – even the title demands ridicule – because the alternative is to cry over the waste of time, money and talent Paramount spent on bringing it to the screen.

There is a strong appeal for seeing Jason let loose on the streets of New York, but the film only reaches the city in its final act. The first two-thirds of the movie leave Jason to carve, stab, smash and murder his way through a class of graduating high schoolers on a ship caught in the middle of a storm. It is generally tedious stuff, simply because this is the eighth time around for Friday the 13th. A simple slasher film cannot justify its own existence at this stage, and while previous sequels endeavoured to provide a fresh angle – a Jason copycat in a remand centre in Part V, supernatural elements in Part VI, and so on – Jason Takes Manhattan plays things in much too ordinary and generic fashion.

There is a weird half-hearted attempt to add a new element. Protagonist Rennie Wickham keeps having hallucinations of the young Jason drowning in Crystal Lake, but those visions – which are peppered throughout the film – never actually amount to any form of explanation or conclusion. It is as if the production team simply lost interest in the concept during the writing phase but failed to cut them out.

The film picks up somewhat once the survivors of the ship massacre reach New York, but it still feels as if the film is working with one hand behind its back. For Jason – who has spent five films slaughtering decadent, disrespectful, drug-taking, over-sexed teenagers – New York should be the perfect hunting ground. Instead he seems fixated on hunting down the survivors instead. There is an overwhelming sense of a missed opportunity. There are also a few too many climaxes, with Jason’s ability survive almost any kind of assault transforming the film into something of a James Cameron tribute – albeit not a good one.

The performances range from the cringe-worthy to the competent, although no one really does themselves any favours. Kane Hodder continues to deliver a lively performances as Jason, but the film is shot and edited in such a way as to make him look silly rather than threatening. He also seems to have developed an ability to teleport around the place, since there is visibly no way he can sneak around from one side a room to another in the manner he appears to.

The film does provide a debut for actor Kelly Hu. Her role here is comparatively brief, but she goes on to appear in such films as The Doors, X-Men 2 and The Scorpion King. All of those films are considerably better than this one.

This is the nadir of the series to date, and I suspect it is no coincidence that Paramount elected to end the series here. When it was picked up for a sequel a few years down the track, it was original director and producer Sean S. Cunningham and New Line Cinema making the attempt.

james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
posted by [personal profile] james_davis_nicoll at 09:40pm on 23/07/2017
Jasmine provided me with a very apt description for Ibid and Fig: the feline answer to Pinky and the Brain.... So if any Waterloo Region and adjacent people would like a cat who spends a lot of time thinking and one who spends a lot of time ... not thinking, let me know...

(also open to suggestions for rehoming them, because what I am doing isn't working)
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)


posted by [personal profile] james_davis_nicoll at 09:03pm on 23/07/2017
Of course I can review the Kobo Aura. It just never occurred to me I could until someone suggested it.
posted by [syndicated profile] the_angriest_feed at 09:09am on 24/07/2017

Posted by Grant

It has been several years, but Marvel has finally made good on the promise at the end of their miniseries Spider-Men and finally started publishing the sequel. The original series featured Peter Parker following the villain Mysterio to an alternate universe where he was dead and teenager Miles Morales had taken his place. Now both Peter and Miles live in the same re-ordered reality, but the portal that opened for Peter has now opened once again.

This is top-notch superhero entertainment, with a witty, well-paced script by Brian Michael Bendis that adds ominous foreshadowing through flash-forwarding and which uses the earlier miniseries as a starting point without disenfranchising readers who didn't read it. At the same time Sara Pichelli and Justin Ponsor are doing some of the best art they have ever done with a Spider-Man book; for both it feels like they are charting into new stylistic territory. It looks phenomenal.

It is absolutely wonderful seeing the two Spider-Men interacting with one another and working together. This series is off to a great start. (5/5)

Spider-Men II. Marvel. Written by Brian Michael Bendis. Art by Sara Pichelli. Colours by Justin Ponsor.

Under the cut: reviews of Action Comics, Darth Vader, Doctor Aphra, and Hulk.

Action Comics #983
DC Comics. Written by Dan Jurgens. Art by Viktor Bagdanovic and Jonathan Glapion. Colours by Mike Spicer.
Superman is blind, and his greatest enemies have joined forces to kill him - thankfully the cavalry has just arrived, including Supergirl, the Chinese Superman, Steel, Superwoman and Lex Luthor. This is the sort of comic book Dan Jurgen writes best: extensive use of supporting characters, big-scale action scenes, and a very heroic and noble depiction of Superman himself. Guest artist Viktor Bogdanovic has a very sharp, angular style. It's a bit of a jolt from the art in issue #982 but it works pretty well. (3/5)

Darth Vader #3
Marvel. Written by Charles Soule. Art by Giuseppe Camuncoli and Cam Smith. Colours by David Curiel.
In the aftermath of Revenge of the Sith, a young Darth Vader journeys to a distant world to slay the exiled Jedi Kirak and ensure his place as new Dark Lord of the Sith. It is a reasonably well staged fight, and will probably entertain plenty of Star Wars enthusiasts. For me, I'm less impressed. Simply because you can tell a story it does mean you always should, and the story of an inexperienced Darth Vader slowly learning how to be a villain is not something that I think ever needed to be told. I love the character enough to stick with this for a few more issues, but it needs a rethink if it's going to work in the long term. (2/5)

Doctor Aphra #9
Marvel. Written by Kieron Gillen. Art by Kev Walker and Marc Deering. Colours by Antonio Fabela.
Having escaped the Screaming Citadel, Aphra returns to her main objective: selling off the preserved AI replica of an ancient Jedi Knight to the highest bidder. It's funny stuff, particularly in Aphra's continued interactions with her entirely untrustworthy crew - and a great end-of-issue cliffhanger suggests they're even less trustworthy than she probably thought. I can't help but think this spin-off ongoing is where Marvel needs to go with their Star Wars comics: Aphra is an original character to the comics, freeing Marvel and its writers to do whatever they like with her. They have the advantage of telling her stories within the Star Wars universe, but are not shackled by the continuity requirements of the films and cartoons. (4/5)

Hulk #8
Marvel. Written by Mariko Tamaki. Art by Georges Duarte. Colours by Matt Milla.
A cruel prank involving a mutagenic drug has transformed an Internet celebrity chef into a giant monster, and Jennifer finds herself back in the superhero saddle in an attempt to track him down and find him a cure. This second story arc is a very organic follow-up to the first, as Jennifer slowly comes to terms with her new state as a more rage-filled Hulk and begins to question whether or not to continue trying to fight crime under those new conditions. Georges Duarte's artwork has a nicely indie sort of a look to it. This continues to be a pretty great comic. (4/5)

July 23rd, 2017

Posted by CJ

Even tiny motels in the path of the eclipse are getting swamped. If you want to go see it, you need to find a long-range weather assurance of some kind for ‘likely clear skies and go there, but if you do not act soon, you may not have lodging. Just sayin’. This is a world-scale event, and people are coming from all over the globe to some areas not usually visited by strangers. One little motel along the path is charging 500 a room—and getting it, apparently, from the desperate. TO find how far it is from you, look up eclipse path Aug 21.

andrewducker: (Default)
posted by [personal profile] andrewducker at 09:27pm on 23/07/2017
Five years ago I had a disagreement with a friend over whether this article was being overly pessimistic about augmented reality and whether we'd have "hard" AR soon.

Five years later, and this is the state of the art:

Which is, I totally admit, a very neat tech demo. But it's not "there" yet. The FOV is too small, and you can see the real world through it. Although, to be fair, most of the time the real world isn't _that_ distracting, you're definitely not going to be able to "see Victorian gas lamps in place of normal lights" or "have a real Coke can that you want to turn into an AR Pepsi can by drawing a Pepsi logo over the Coke logo".

Ah well, I'll make a note to come back in five years time and see where we are then!
watervole: (knitting)
posted by [personal profile] watervole at 06:37pm on 23/07/2017
 I'm nearing the end of a piece of cross-stitch that I've been working on for about a decade.  It isn't that big a project, but I had detours into knitting another other embroideries.  This used to be my 'travel' embroidery, in a case ready to go and easy to take anywhere knowing that I had all the necessary bits to do it.

It had a border of poppies and cornflowers and space for my own text in the middle.

But I can't decide what words to put in the centre.  It can't be too lengthy, a dozen words at most, and fewer might be better.

I'm hunting for something that says we don't need loads of possessions to be happy; that a garden is a great source of contentment; that life is to be enjoyed while you have it and maybe something ecological as well.

Now, clearly one can't manage all of that....

Random ideas have included:

Gardeners live longer

To be content is the key to happiness

We only have one world, treat it gently

Toss ideas at me.  Anything that sounds good.

posted by [syndicated profile] clivethompson_feed at 03:41pm on 23/07/2017

Posted by Clive

Black and white archival photo of an automat in New York City

Automats were invented partly because turn-of-the-20th-century diners hated waiters. Speaking of automation, this piece ponders the effects of Venmo on friendships. There are 17 kinds of ice? Now you can register a domain with an emoji in its URL. (Several services exist, in fact.) Wikipedia as a text adventure. Firefox 55 is now fast enough that it can reopen 1,691 tabs in 15 seconds. An interactive map of The Odyssey. The Washington Post has been really owning the goat beat lately. (Previously.) Salvador Dali’s mustache, nearly 30 years after he was embalmed, is still in perfect shape.


supergee: (kerplop)
Allegedly scientific journals discuss midichlorians.
supergee: (gargoyle)
posted by [personal profile] supergee at 11:40am on 23/07/2017 under
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
rydra_wong: Doonesbury, Watergate, two congressmen: "If only he'd knock over a bank or something ..." "By George, we'd have him them!" (bank -- watergate)
posted by [personal profile] rydra_wong at 12:54pm on 23/07/2017 under
So Sean Spicer's resigned (we all knew it was coming), Sessions discussed the Trump campaign and policy issues with Kisylak in 2016, and Trump looks like he's revving up to fire Mueller and Sessions and then pardon himself and his family for everything they've done ever.

And all I can focus on is this story that Sean Spicer stole a mini-fridge from junior White House staffers.
andrewducker: (Default)
posted by [syndicated profile] twentysidedtale_feed at 10:00am on 23/07/2017

Posted by Shamus

Back in October of last year this question arrived in the Diecast mailbag. A lot of people have asked me this same question over the years and so I figured it was probably worth answering. On the other hand it felt a little too long, involved, and focused-on-me for the podcast.

Dear Shamus,

As an autistic person myself, I couldn’t help but notice that the experiences you describe both on the diecast and in your life story series on the blog (especially regarding sensory rocessing disorder, such as your difficulty processing two auditory streams at once) are very similar to what is experienced by both myself and my neurosiblings in the autistic community. Have you ever considered whether you might be on the spectrum yourself, or possibly been evaluated as a child? (Autistic kids who learn to hide their symptoms to avoid bullying frequently slip through diagnosis.)


Edith is probably referring to the early chapters of the Autoblography. I won’t try to summarize all of that personal history here. If you’re curious, you’ll have to read the series. I certainly exhibited a lot of odd behaviors when I was young. And if I’m being honest, I’m still pretty eccentric at 45. In fact, there’s a lot of personal strangeness that I left out of the Autoblography because it would have taken too long to explain or would have been too personally embarrassing.

I began writing a response to Edith’s question months ago, but then forgot all about it until the topic popped up again on Twitter when someone said:

To which I responded:

On one hand, I know it’s really annoying when people go around diagnosing themselves with complex things that they don’t totally understand. On the other hand, when autistic people describe their struggles it sounds pretty familiar. So while I’m reluctant to go around claiming I was / am autistic, I can say fairly definitively that I had some sort of profound neurological dysfunction that greatly inhibited my social development. These days I would expect a kid behaving the way I did to end up diagnosed with something. My malfunctions were off-putting to the adults in my life and prevented me from forming stable relationships.

Whatever my problem is, I couldn’t have been diagnosed with autism because autism itself is a new-ish idea. Our current understanding of it didn’t solidify among academics until the 1970’s. Before this, it was lumped into schizophrenia, which seemed to be our catch-all term for “This person is strange and we don’t know why”. This was long before the internet, which means it took a couple of decades for that understanding to work its way out into the general public where it would be understood by parents and school systems. I didn’t hear the word “autism” until the 90’s or so, long after I’d become an adult.

I knew I was different, but I didn’t understand how I was different or where my problems came from. Just one example of countless memories in my life:

It was the last day of school and I found myself talking to the phys-ed instructor. She asked me, “What was your favorite part of the year?” I hesitated. Is she asking what is my favorite memory from the last 12 months? Is she asking what my favorite memory is since the turn of the year five months ago? Is she asking what my favorite memory is from this particular school year? Is she asking what’s my favorite memory from this school year, but limited to the events of her class? I have no idea what this person is asking. Terrified, I raced through all these possible interpretations of the question, trying to figure out which one she intended. I’d learned that people disapproved if I took too long to respond to a question, but I also hate having disastrous conversations where I misinterpret everything and cause confusion.

Just about any other kid would immediately understand what was going on here. It’s the last day of school, and looking back over the past school year is part of creating closure and determining which memories we’d like to preserve. Usually you didn’t need to ask people this question. People would reminisce without prompting. “Hey, remember that time in wood shop when Mike stuck a pencil in the band saw eraser-first and it flew halfway across the room? Remember when Janet was trying to open her pudding and the lid was stuck and when it came off she splattered it in her own face? Remember that one awesome fight between Big Chris and T-Bone?” This is a completely common ritual, and everyone understood it intuitively. It was never taught. The rules were never written down. Everyone knew how this ritual worked. Everyone but me.

Now, this moment alone wouldn’t be a big deal. Everyone has moments of embarrassment and awkwardness while growing up. But this sort of caught-in-the-headlights bafflement was part of my day-to-day.

Getting back to the Tweet that got me thinking about this again:

Theory of mind is the understanding that the people around you have their own beliefs, intents, desires, knowledge, and viewpoints. This awareness usually develops in early childhood. VSauce has a pretty good explanation of it in his video Is Your Red the Same as My Red? The classic experiment to test for it goes like this:

You’ve got a couple of dolls and you enact a scene for a small child. Let’s call the dolls Bert and Ernie. Bert and Ernie have (say) a fidget spinner. Bert places the fidget spinner in a toybox. Then Bert leaves the room. While he’s gone, Ernie moves the fidget spinner from the toybox to a desk drawer. Then Bert re-enters the scene and says he wants the toy. At this point you ask the child, “Where is Bert going to look for the toy?”

If the kid’s Theory of Mind hasn’t quite formed yet, then they will say Bert will look for the toy in the desk. The thing we’re trying to show here is that they haven’t quite gotten the idea that other people have access to different information, and that there are things Ernie knows that Bert does not. Theory of Mind typically forms at some point before age 5.

Having said all that, I don’t know that a lack of “theory of mind” is how I’d describe my particular dysfunction. I was pretty well aware that people around me were other minds with their own thoughts and ideas. In fact, I remember being sort of acutely aware of this because I was never able to figure out what in blazes they were thinking or what they wanted from me. I only had my own mind to use as a guide, and my own assumptions never matched what people were thinking. I wasn’t indifferent to other people. I remember really wanting to win the approval of others and the maddening sensation that I could never really pull it off. I remember the terror of being thrust into an unfamiliar social situation (a new group of people) and knowing I was going to be flying blind. I wouldn’t know who to avoid, or who might be “safe” to interact with. I wouldn’t have previous experience to draw from with the new group, so I knew I was going to make a bunch of mistakes and accrue a fresh load of embarrassing memories before I got the hang of them.

I didn’t know how to answer questions, I didn’t know how to smooth over hurt feelings, I didn’t know what other people would find funny, and very often people got angry with me for (from my viewpoint) no reason at all.

The older I got, the more sophisticated the expectations became. All I wanted to do was avoid scorn and disapproval, but the game was ramping up in difficulty faster than I could learn. At the same time, the cost of failure was becoming higher. As a child, having a teacher rebuke me and act like I was an idiot was terrible, but once I hit my teens I discovered it was nothing compared to a few cutting words from a pretty girl.

Maybe this inability to intuit the expectations of others is simply a milder version of the lack of ToM? Maybe it’s a totally different problem. It’s hard to say.

At age 19, it all clicked into place. I’m not sure what finally did it. Maybe it was because I’d graduated high school, and social interactions were less terrifying. Maybe some important part of my brain just developed really, really late. Maybe my various successes have given me confidence. Maybe I’m still the same sort of doofus, but out here in the real world this awkwardness is lovable instead of off-putting. The rigid conformity of school cultivates a really ugly sort of tribalism, and maybe getting away from that was all I needed.

But if I had to guess, I think I’d suggest that I was born with some part of my brain not working right. There’s some app that’s comes pre-installed for most people, but was missing for me. After years of practice, I managed to get the rest of my grey matter to pick up the slack. It’s like a computer without a graphics card. Yeah, you can put the rendering load on the CPU, but it’s going to be slow and put an incredible strain on the machine.

For example: Edith refers to the fact that I can only listen to one person talking at a time. If I’m on the phone and someone else walks up to me and tries to speak to me, I lock up. I try to listen to both people, fail, panic, and find myself unable to recollect what either one has said. I need to stop both conversations and make them take turns, even if if the second conversation is something simple like, “I’m going to the store, ask [the person on the phone] if they need me to get them anything.” Trying to listen to two people at the same time in a live conversation[2] creates a feeling of panic and frustration.

I suppose this is one of the reasons I enjoy this kind of writing. I can communicate with lots of people at once without getting overloaded, because the whole things runs asynchronously.

The thing is, before I was married I sort of assumed everyone felt this way about being interrupted on the phone and so people interrupting me were just being thoughtless assholes. It wasn’t until I observed my wife negotiate two different simultaneous conversations involving three people on two unrelated topics that I realized there was something “wrong” with me. It’s not just that she can do it, it’s that it’s not even a big deal to her. It’s so natural for her that she found my frustration and annoyance to be completely inexplicable.

Brains are funny. I don’t know how mine would have been diagnosed If I’d been born 20 years later, but I’m glad I’m out of those rough years now.

Posted by Tony Finch

mod_md: built-in Let's Encrypt (ACME) support for Apache httpd.
supergee: (kangaroo)
posted by [personal profile] supergee at 05:32am on 23/07/2017 under
Massachusetts wants to put you in jail and steal your car for having a secret compartment you might use for ritually unclean substances.

Thanx to Avedon's Sideshow.
posted by [syndicated profile] dg_weblog_feed at 07:00am on 23/07/2017

Posted by diamond geezer

How 50 London places got their names

Aldwych: lair of the ancient sorceress
Arnos Grove: small wood, formerly belonging to Arno
Barbican: where barbecues were permitted
Barking: Henry VIII's favourite hostelry
Barkingside: close to Henry VIII's favourite hostelry
Barnes: place for agricultural storage
Battersea: site of heavy wave action
Blackfriars: known for its overcooked fish
Bloomsbury: a subterranean garden
Brixton: huge pile of building materials
Camberwell: a nicely-sloping road
Catford: where kittens crossed the river
Crossness: known for its angry residents
Dulwich: lair of the boring sorceress
Ealing: site of Cockney 'ospital
Feltham: home of the infamous Pigstrokers Gang
Finsbury: shark cemetery
Fulham: a lot of pigs lived here
Fulwell: hole which overflowed with water
Goodmayes: most excellent labyrinth
Greenwich: lair of the inexperienced sorceress
Hackney: place where half a leg was lost
Hatch End: closed-down chicken farm
Hatton: place to find millinery
Hayes: susceptible to fog
Highbury: hilltop cemetery
Hurlingham: home of the infamous Pigchuckers Gang
Kew: where the line to enter London began
Kidbrooke: riverside grazing for young goats
Kilburn: place of murder and arson
Kingsbury: royal cemetery
Ladywell: women's hospital
Limehouse: bright green cottage
Maida Vale: wedding dress headgear created here
Nunhead: place of habit
Paddington: huge pile of stuffing
Pinner: where ladies were tied down
Ponders End: place for contemplating death
Poplar: a lot of people used to live here
Purley: seat of Cockney royalty
Riddlesdown: a very wet place
Shacklewell: a particularly good torture chamber
Slade Green: parkland for duelling
Spitalfields: saliva-strewn pasture
Sudbury: cemetery for washerwomen
Tooting Broadway: avenue lined by owls
Wandsworth: marketplace for wizards
Wapping: huge place
Whetstone: rock in a river
Woolwich: lair of the knitting sorceress

Posted by Stilgherrian

Approaching Gold Coast AirportThis Weekly Wrap covers three weeks, Monday 3 to Sunday 23 July 2017, because I just simply didn’t get around to it. Sometimes the pace needs to be pulled back. Especially when you’re in Queensland.

There was plenty of productivity, but it was in the background. You’ll see hints of it in the lists.



None, but see below.

Media Appearances

  • On Wednesday 5 July, I spoke about the Medicare data breach and the dark web on ABC Adelaide.
  • On the same day, I spoke with journalism students at Macleay College about the tech press, and my thoughts on journalism generally. They’ve published an article and edited video.
  • On Friday 14 July, I spoke about the Australian government’s cryptography plans on ABC Perth.
  • On Thursday 20 July, I spoke about various ways to help secure your email on ABC Gold Coast.

I probably won’t get around to posting audio of those last two.

Corporate Largesse

None, apart from the food and drink provided at the conferences.

The Week Ahead

Monday through Wednesday will be days of writing and editing, for both ZDNet and the SEKRIT project. The latter is very close to completion now.

The next episode of The 9pm Edict podcast will finally be recorded this Thursday 27 July at 2100 AEST, and streamed live via stilgherrian.com/edict/live/. You still have time to support this podcast with a one-off contribution.

On Friday, I’m heading down to Sydney, and the University of NSW in particular, to help celebrate the 30th birthday of the Australian Privacy Foundation. How time flies.

Further Ahead

At some point between 26 and 28 July, I’m recording the pilot episode of a new podcast. Even though it’s a variant of The 9pm Edict, it won’t be streamed live. It’s a different sort of thing. Details soon.

Later in the year, I’m covering SINET61 on 26 to 27 September; the iappANZ Summit 2017 on 3 October; the Australian Information Security Association (AISA) in Sydney from 10 to 12 October; and Ruxcon in Melbourne on 21 to 22 October.

If there’s anything I should add in there, please let me know.

[Photo: Approaching Gold Coast Airport (OOL/YBCG) from the north, photographed on 16 July 2017 from Virgin Australia flight VA517, served that day by Boeing 737-800 registration VH-YVA.]

siderea: (Default)
posted by [personal profile] siderea at 01:34am on 23/07/2017 under
Every. single. time. my shell hosting company announces a planned outage for an upgrade for something having to do with email, and they assure me that it won't impact me at all and I won't have any email outage, every single time they've wrong.

I'm not going to embarrass them in public because they do try so hard and are quick to fix broken things when I bring them to their attention.

It's just that, by now, I'd hope they'd just email me, "Hey, Siderea, we'll be fucking up your email at this future date and time. We'll be around on Twitter until this subsequent date and time. Please be available during this window to exercise your account and let us know what we've broken this time."

Instead, I email them in response to the planned outage announcement and say, "Hey, what can we do in advance to make this work?" and they're like "nothing, it's all going to go perfectly!" and I'm like, "ooookay, when exactly will you be flipping the switch, (so I know when to check on you, but I don't say this part)?" and they're like, "oh, sometime on that weekend." *throws hands in the air*

(I miss nyip.net so hard.)

Posted by cks

The SSH connection protocol is the final SSH protocol; depending on your perspective, it sits either on top of or after the SSH transport protocol and SSH user authentication protocol. It's the level of SSH where all of the useful things happen, like remote logins, command execution, and port forwarding.

An important thing to know about the connection protocol is that it's a multiplexed protocol. There is not one logical connection that everything happens over but instead multiple channels, all operating more or less independently. SSH has its own internal flow control mechanism for channels to make sure that data from a single channel won't saturate the overall stream and prevent other channels from being responsive. There are different types of channels (and subtypes of some of them as well); one type of channel is used for 'sessions', another for X11 forwarding, another for port forwarding, and so on. However, the connection protocol and SSH as a whole doesn't really interpret the actual data flowing over a particular channel; once a channel is set up, data is just data and is shuttled back and forth blindly. Like many things in the SSH protocol, channel types and subtypes are specified as strings.

(SSH opted to make a lot of things be strings to make them easily extensible, especially for experiments and implementation specific extensions. With strings, you just need a naming convention to avoid collisions instead of any sort of central authority to register your new number. This is why you will see some SSH ciphers with names like 'aes128-gcm@openssh.com'.)

The major channel type is a 'session', which are basically containers that are used to ask for login shells, command execution, X11 forwarding, and 'subsystems', which is a general concept for other sorts of sessions that can be used to extend SSH (with the right magic on both the server and the client). Subsystems probably aren't used much, although they are used to implement SFTP. A single session can ask for and contain multiple things; if you ssh in to a server interactively with X11 forwarding enabled, your session will ask for both a shell and X11 forwarding.

(However, the RFC requires a session to only have one of a shell, a command execution, or a subsystem. This is probably partly because of data flow issues; if you asked for more than one, the connection protocol provides no way to sort out which input and output is attached to which thing within a single channel. X11 forwarding is different, because a new channel gets opened for each client.)

Channels can be opened by either end. Normally the client opens most channels, but the server can wind up opening channels for X11 clients and for ports being forwarded from the server to the client (with eg OpenSSH ssh's -R set of options).

OpenSSH's connection sharing works through channel multiplexing, since a client can open multiple 'session' channels over a single connection. The client side is going to be a little complicated, but from the server side everything is generic and general.

posted by [syndicated profile] crpgaddict_feed at 12:00am on 23/07/2017

Posted by CRPG Addict

There is no title screen for the game.
Quest for Tanda
United States
Independently developed and published
Released in 1991 for Atari ST
Date Started:  17 July 2017
Date Ended: 17 July 2017
Total Hours: 2
Difficulty: Easy (2/5)
Final Rating: (to come later)
Ranking at Time of Posting: (to come later)
The unlikely story of Quest for Tanda's survival is more interesting than the game itself. I originally drafted a relatively scathing posting on the brief adventure and its horrible sense of spelling, but then I heard from the author, Jonah Schwartz, who said he was only 13 when he wrote it on his school's Atari ST. It was just an exercise to teach himself GFA BASIC, uploaded as a lark to several San Francisco Bay-area BBS sites. He never received a single envelope with the requested $5.00 shareware fee. And yet, somehow, 17 years later, a programmer in Sweden decided it was worth cataloging on MobyGames. I wish I could fill in the blanks in between, but I wrote to the contributor and he doesn't even remember listing the game.
A ransom note puts the brief plot in motion.
The setup is that you are the lover of Princess Tanda of Khlad. One day, Tanda is kidnapped by the evil Istvan. He leaves a ransom note promising to torture and kill Tanda, but he frankly acknowledges that the requested ransom (1 million gold pieces) exceeds the total wealth of the kingdom. King Aahz, Tanda's father, promises her hand in marriage if you can rescue her from Istvan.
The proper names are drawn from Robert Lynn Asprin's MythAdventures novels (1978-2002), which I've never read but gather are humorous, almost satirical fantasies in the same vein as Terry Pratchett. The game doesn't go beyond the names themselves, as in the novels Aahz is a reptilian magician and not a king, and Tanda is an assassin and not Aahz's daughter.

The castle graphic that leads this entry is shown during the backstory and when the player visits either of the other two castles in the game. The image is not original to the game, but Schwartz doesn't remember where he got it. A reverse image search finds it on a few web sites (and one jigsaw puzzle box) without conclusively answering the question of its origin.
The extent of character creation.
Character creation consists of choosing from three names. The player does not know until after making the choice that "Skeeve" is a Level 2 fighter/Level 4 wizard; "Garkin" is a Level 0 fighter/Level 5 wizard; and "Frumple is a Level 3 fighter/Level 2 wizard. Each character begins with 40 or 50 hit points, water and food, 20 or 40 magic points, and some basic weapons and armor. I don't think there's a mechanism for the characters to gain levels during gameplay (I suppose making it not an RPG under my rules), but it's hard to tell since you only fight a handful of combats.
The "character screen."
The only other choice during character creation is whether to play on easy or hard mode. Easy-mode characters start with a boat and can go anywhere. ("I know that it is not possible to carry a boat around," Schwartz apologies in the "readme" file.) Hard-mode characters have to visit the towns and learn where they can obtain a boat. The more important difference, though, is that easy characters start with 200 gold and hard characters start with only 10. It's nearly impossible for those latter characters to make enough money from the game's few random combats to remain healed, watered, and fed and pay for the NPC clues and items necessary to win the game.
This master screen appears between every move.
Gameplay takes place on a small 8 x 7 map. After every move, the screen reverts to a kind of "master control panel" where the player can eat, drink, cast a spell, view statistics, sleep, or refresh himself as to the nature of the main quest. You click an image of a directional pad to move, but the master screen appears again after the move is completed.
The entirety of the game world.
Each of the five towns is laid out the same, consisting of a weapon shop, an armor shop, a food shop, and two houses with NPCs who will give you hints for a price.
One of the NPCs gives you a summary of the entire game world.
Three of the houses in the game are locked and require you to find a sequence of keys to open them. None of that is necessary on "easy" mode, as the game simply tells you where to go for instructions on how to defeat Istvan. 
Visiting the "wepons shop" in a town.
It makes little sense to spend money at the weapon and armor shops. The game's best weapon is available from winning a battle (see below), and it's tough to buy armor because the game warns you that you'll be replacing the armor you already own, but it never bothers to tell you what armor the character starts with.      
Options in the weapons shop.
Each of the empty grass squares has a chance of an encounter with a ghost, a wizard, or a spider. These three enemies, plus a zombie who only seems to attack while you're sleeping, and a couple of enemies you fight at fixed encounters, seem to be the extent of the game's menagerie.

In combat, you specify whether to attack or cast a spell. If you attack, you then specify your weapon and watch the results. That's it. If you cast a spell, you choose between wizard spells ("Fireball," "Disrupt," "Turn Undead") and cleric spells (heal, create food or water) and put a designated number of points into them. I never found that the offensive spells worked even once. "Turn Undead" explicitly doesn't work on ghosts, the only undead that you regularly encounter.

"Combat options." You can't even use the 1-3 keys. You have to click on the answer.
There is one optional side area in the game: Badaxe's castle, where you can fight an ogre and get Badaxe's axe as a reward.
I'm always down for a tryst.
By now, you will have noted the numerous spelling mistakes that populate every screen. I originally wrote that the game featured "spelling that would appall you even if you discovered the developer was a toddler," along with unnecessary capitalization and frequent but inconsistent use of pseudo-"olde English." Schwartz actually apologized in the "readme" file for "mixing medieval and modern language" and for being "a bad speler." Knowing that he was 13 dilutes my venom a bit, although I'm not sure why he didn't just grab a dictionary or a playtester.
As small and short as the game is, it's a struggle to get to the end before your pools of money, food, water, and hit points deplete, leaving you with no way to regain them. "Easy" mode characters really just need to visit two towns--one to get the instructions from an NPC, and one to buy the missile spell that she recommends. "Hard" mode characters have to find the boat first and earn enough money to pay the NPCs.
Explicit instructions on how to win. This costs 40 gold pieces.
For both characters, the quest path is the same. You go to the square with the bridge and fight the "Halk" guarding it; he is vulnerable only to a bow and arrows or the "Magic Missile" spell (which, confusingly, appears as a weapon instead of a spell). Once you kill him, you loot the key to Istvan's castle.
Once you make it to Istvan's island, the plot resolves itself on three text screens with no player input. And the game is over. It takes about 15 minutes on "easy" mode and perhaps 2-3 times as long on "hard" mode, if indeed you're able to survive the latter. There's no way to save the game, so the brief play time is an advantage.
The game earns a 13 on my GIMLET, which is close to the minimum a game could possibly earn and still be considered an RPG. In doing so, it has spawned a new rule in my sidebar: If the game is independent or shareware but won no awards, garnered no positive reviews, has no fan pages--and if I fire it up, play a few minutes, and find nothing charming or original about it--I have the option to reject it. I mean no offense to Mr. Schwartz, who accomplished something relatively remarkable at a young age, but there's no reason other than pure luck that this game found its way to MobyGames and thousands of similar efforts from young students of computer programming did not.

Mr. Schwartz was understandably startled when I wrote to him about this 26-year-old project and said I was going to blog about it: "It's a bit like finding out your 8th grade science project is being reviewed by a scientific journal." While it leaves something wanting as an RPG, it did accomplish its purpose. Schwartz went on to a long and prosperous career as a software developer and entrepreneur. Among many others, was the co-founder and CTO of Rumpus, a San Francisco-based company that made games for iOS and Android, including Mo' Monsters, a Pokémon-inspired game that is, ironically, not cataloged on MobyGames.

james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
posted by [personal profile] james_davis_nicoll at 08:53pm on 22/07/2017
My Friday reviews rotated between four long running series? Say, Vorkosigan, Kitty and two others?

Posted by John Scalzi

As part of my continuing effort to justify the Adobe Creative Cloud subscription I have, I’ve been playing with my Audition audio software and learning how to use it. Today I learned how to make a multitrack file! Go me. I also played with the various filters in the software to distort and shape sounds.

All of which is to say I recorded a song today and it is very very noisy indeed. It’s “Here Comes the Rain Again,” which is my favorite song from the Eurythmics. Here it is (and no, it’s not actually nine minutes long, I don’t know why the media player says that. It’s, like, five):

Yes, that’s me singing. No, Annie Lennox doesn’t have a thing to worry about.

In case you’re curious, every noise on that track either comes out of me, or out of an acoustic tenor guitar. Audio filters are fun! Let’s just say I let my Thurston out to play, and if you get that reference, congratulations, you’re old too.

No, I’m not giving up my day job. Relax. But I do enjoy playing with sounds. This is fun for me.

In any event: Enjoy the noise.

doug: ubiquitous photo of me gurning with green shirt on (Default)
solarbird: (Default)
posted by [personal profile] solarbird at 12:06pm on 22/07/2017 under , ,
Hooo, practice range time makes a huge difference learning Widowmaker play.

I spent a bunch of time on the practice range yesterday and the day before and the impact has been immediate. I had a couple of twitch headshots at lunchtime overwatch that were just nuts. Intent was there, sure, but the mechanics? Pure reflex. Twitch, headshot. Good night, Hanzo. Twitch, headshot. Good night, McCree. Go to sleep.

Plus a few more deliberately aimed headshots. I had some good numbers today. Their McCree was the only one who could get anywhere near me. But more, I'm picking up the always-be-moving part. Not perfectly, of course. But I was thinking of her as best played more still than she should be, and that's wrong. Move. Always.

Also won another couple of duels with enemy Widowmakers, and one - ugh, she was terrible. I'll have this reaction when I'm playing enemy Tracer, when they're terrible - "oh, sister, you shame us all" - and I had that today, as Widow, about an enemy Widow. And I was right. I was a factor. She wasn't. We won, and they barely even ever slowed us down.

Also also, double-kill with a venom mine. That was both a first, and hilarious. "Here, have some deadly neurotoxin I got from my best friend online. Ooh, did that sting? Thanks, I will tell her."

I really do kind of think Widowmaker and GlaDOS would be evil online friends. You know, what with the common interests in deadly neurotoxin and killing. I should learn how to say "the cake is a lie" in French. Google translate says "le gateau est un mensonge." I suspect if it's gonna get anything right, it's that.

Someone should draw them getting together at a café for cake and neurotoxin. Tell me that wouldn't be great. :D

Huh, I guess it's official. I need a Widowmaker icon.
Mood:: 'amused' amused
vass: Icon of Saint Ignatius being eaten by lions (eaten by lions)
posted by [personal profile] vass at 03:33am on 23/07/2017 under
He's being a terrible Dory again. (Sung to the tune of 'I'm telling a terrible story' from The Pirates of Penzance.) This time his evidence exculpatory is that I won't let him use the indoor swimming pool. (No, not the sink. And I don't have a bathtub.)

So he learned to turn the lever sort of door handles and also swing on them in such a way that he can open an outward opening door from the outside. I am pondering technological solutions. I hear there's a form of child lock that works on cats. Until then I'm leaving the lid down and putting a barrier in front of the door, but I expect that won't hold him for long.
July 22nd, 2017
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
posted by [syndicated profile] scalziwhatever_feed at 12:44pm on 22/07/2017

Posted by John Scalzi

Because sometimes it’s fun to play with Photoshop’s sliders and see what you come up with. This is what happens (in part) when you push the “dehaze” slider all the way to the right. The real sunset didn’t look like this (it looked like this), but I think it might be cool to live on a planet where the sunset did look like that, every once in a while.

Enjoy the weekend, folks.

den: (Default)
posted by [personal profile] den at 10:15pm on 22/07/2017
It's 22nd July. Happy Pi Approximation Day!
Mood:: 'silly' silly


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